Governor Praises Students for Science, Math Achievements

Two head to nationally acclaimed science camp, six represent Maine at national design competition, and one represents the U.S. in an international water prize competition

AUGUSTA – Gov. John Baldacci recognized nine Maine students in his State House office for their achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Two of the students, from Bridgton and Wells, were Maine’s delegates to the nationally acclaimed and highly selective National Youth Science Camp. He recognized six others, who attend Falmouth High School, for their high level participation in a national engineering challenge. And he recognized Rebecca Ye of Bangor, the U.S. winner of the 2010 Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

“What you are doing is important for you and important to our state and our nation,” Gov. Baldacci told the students. “We need more students going into science, technology, engineering and math. I hope you will continue to be a part of answering the important scientific questions of our time, and developing the solutions to the important challenges we face.”

Gov. Baldacci is a strong supporter of promoting the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as areas of pursuit for Maine’s students. The state has embarked on several initiatives in recent years to promote STEM in Maine’s schools. Gov. Baldacci recognized students Caroline Suresh of Bridgton and Katherine Spring of Wells. The two were invited by Governor Joe Manchin III of West Virginia to participate as delegates to the National Youth Science Camp held near the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia. They were selected as promising young scientific leaders in Maine’s 2010 high school graduating class.

Suresh will graduate this year at the age of 16 from Lake Region High School where she participated in varsity soccer, J.V. basketball, the National Honor Society, math team, and Coffee Talk Book Club, Show Choir, and served as class secretary for four years. Among her academic achievements, Suresh received the Lion’s Club Student of the Month Award, the AP Scholar with Honor Award from the College Board, participated in Dirigo Girls’ State, and received the National Merit Student Commendment. Suresh has also conducted independent research on bacterial DNA. Outside of school Suresh volunteers at her church’s Sunday morning nursery and at the Sunday School and has worked at the church’s summer camp as a counselor. She will attend Dartmouth College this fall and plans to study biology.

Spring graduated this year from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics where she participated on the cross country and track and field teams, the technical theatre crew, the Key Club, the outing club, and the student senate. Spring also serves as a resident assistant and student admissions ambassador and has played clarinet for six years. Among her academic achievements, she has received the AP Scholar with Distinction Award and participated in extensive AP and honors work. Outside of school Spring has volunteered at the York County Shelter. She will attend Northeastern this fall, and plans to study Biology.

Established in 1963 as a part of West Virginia’s Centennial Celebration, the National Youth Science Camp is an annual summer forum where two delegates representing each state exchange ideas with leading scientists and other professionals from academic and corporate worlds. Lectures and hands-on research projects are presented by scientists from across the United States who work on some of the most provocative topics in science today – topics such as fractal geometry, the human genome project, global climate change, the history of the universe, the fate of our rain forests, and robotics. Delegates to the NYSC are challenged to explore new areas in the biological and physical sciences, art, and music with resident staff members. Delegates also present seminars covering their own areas of research and interest. The National Youth Science Camp’s diverse academic program is complemented by an outdoor recreation program, which leverages the Science Camp’s location in the Monongahela National Forest. The Science Camp’s outdoor program offers backpacking, caving, rock climbing, mountain biking and kayaking. The National Youth Science Foundation covers all expenses, including travel.

Anita Bernhardt, the Maine Department of Education’s science content specialist and coordinator for the National Youth Science Camp application process in Maine, said the students are high achievers in science, had great recommendations from their teachers and are very involved in their schools and communities. She said the application is rigorous, and applications undergo a thorough review by a review panel.

The Governor also honored the Falmouth Aeronautical Aviators (FAA) team, Maine’s first place finalist team in the national Real World Design Challenge Competition. They went on to the national competition in Washington, D.C. The team members were eleventh grade students at Falmouth High School during the recently ended school year. In attendance at the Governor’s office were Sarah Abramson, Jacob Merson and Eric Tierney. Team members Sam Walker, Zoë Kitchel and Jordan Stanhope were unable to attend. The students were coached by Falmouth faculty members, John Kraljic, Chris Morin, and Andrew Njaa; and received mentoring help from retired Lockheed Martin vice president and Falmouth resident Kenneth Riddle as well as FAA and Cessna professionals from around the country.

Each year, the Real World Design Challenge presents students with an opportunity to create solutions to a problem faced by one of our nation’s leading industries. The 2010 Governor’s Cup State Challenge addressed fuel efficiency in aviation. Falmouth High School accepted this challenge. Utilizing professional engineering design software, collaborative web-based tools, and the expertise of mentor scientists and engineers from federal agencies, the aviation industry, colleges and universities, the team spent several months creating solutions to the Challenge, while gaining valuable insights and hands on experience for possible future engineering careers. Students presented their designs for improved fuel efficiency and explained their design constraints and solutions to a blue ribbon panel at the March competition in Washington, D.C.

Rebecca Ye was the U.S. winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize the most prestigious youth award for water-related science. Ye’s project combined nanotechnology and microbiology in the development of a biosensor for E.coli in water samples. Ye graduated from Bangor High School and will attend Washington University in St. Louis, where she will be enrolled in the pre-med program.

For more information, visit the Maine Department of Education